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Buckley endeavors to meet, exceed energy goals

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For a base with a main mission that requires immense power sources and an abundance of electricity, the task of reducing energy consumption is no easy feat. However, Buckley is on par with researching the latest and greatest in efficient technologies and implementing them if found cost effective.

"The Air Force is known for its innovation, and researchers and scientists in our labs are working diligently to help develop the game-changing technologies that will be essential to future operations," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley at the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 - Power of Choice in Las Vegas in August.

Experts in the 460th Civil Engineer Squadron are doing their part as they research efforts in the commercial industry, new and improved technologies, and initiatives within Air Force Space Command, said Ken Webb, 460th CES energy manager. They explore how much energy the technology saves and if such schemes are employable at Buckley. They also research how much it would cost to run and if the technology is cost effective.

All efforts to reduce Buckley's use of resources fall in line with requirements to reduce energy and water consumption.

"Per federal mandates and (Defense Department) guidance, we have to reduce energy (intensity) by 30 percent by 2015 and water (intensity) by 26 percent by (2020)," Webb said. "That's an intensity metric. It's not necessarily a complete reduction. Since Buckley Air Force Base is growing - we get new base partners and we're also growing the mission - the goal is to build new energy-efficient facilities.

"By (building) low energy-intensity buildings," Webb noted, "we're being more responsible with the energy we consume."

Webb explained Buckley is trying to exceed mandated goals to bolster command-wide achievements. Within AFSPC, Buckley accounts for 4 percent of energy usage.

"In terms of energy efficiency and intensity we're actually below the Air Force average, and we're one of the more energy efficient bases in Space Command currently," Webb said. "Our concern now is energy demand - reducing our consumption during peak periods."

Reducing peak-hour energy consumption can be especially important in a four-season state where residents see all types of weather. Buckley's location requires extra consideration for heating and cooling technology and costs to accommodate for both cold and hot temperatures.

"We see all temperature ranges, for the most part, so we have to be prepared for hot climates and cold climates," Webb explained. "That increases our workload. Geographical location makes us have to be more creative for renewable technologies."

Projects recently completed and those currently being implemented create a more energy-thrifty installation.

Solar panels topping some base buildings and a solar field supply a portion of the energy for the base. Programmed systems regulate temperatures during off times to reduce heating costs. Also, new LED lights now line Aspen Street, and the rest of the 460th Space Wing parking lot and street lights will gradually follow suit.

After replacing nearly 500 light fixtures on base, expected savings from the LED project alone reach $42,000 a year, Webb said. With the solar panels, temperature regulation and LED lighting projects, "you can find a lot of buildings have subtle technologies added to them."

Less subtle is the potential project to update the Buckley Exchange. Tested previously at shoppettes in the continental U.S., energy-minded professionals brainstormed and implemented ways to make the quick-stop shops less of an energy sponge.

"Estimated savings (in the shoppettes) was around 30 to 40 percent. They ended up receiving about 45 percent actual savings, and now they're rolling out those changes that they made to 270 or so shoppettes across the CONUS," Webb noted. "There is hope that if they get the same sort of results (at the Buckley Exchange), we'll have one of the most efficient (exchanges) in the Air Force.

"Buckley Air Force Base will be the test bed, so Buckley has the chance to be the first in the Air Force ... to have a renovated, new energy-efficient (exchange) should it prove a viable project," he added. "That will hopefully be rolled out CONUS-wide."

Another major project currently funded for design under the energy manager's scope is a geothermal system shared between 10 AFSPC facilities, a potential endeavor should it prove cost effective after design and analysis.

"Not only is it a shared geothermal system, it also shares the (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system already installed," Webb explained. "It's developing five technologies into one project."

"We're still developing, so it's not 100 percent, but it's what we like to call our second generational projects. We're trying things that are more unique," Webb said. "We feel that the need to be creative on an already energy-efficient base is what we should be doing."

While there are a number of highly technical and large projects ongoing to decrease resource consumption, all Team Buckley members can contribute to consumption reduction efforts.

"Air Force-driven initiatives are important, but it is critical to remember that Airmen play a key role in achieving our energy objectives," Donley said during the National Clean Energy Summit. "We will look to their continued creativity and focus on energy to obtain an assured energy advantage in air, space, and cyberspace."

Webb advises people to practice basic energy-saving habits such as turning off lights when not in the room and turning off monitors at the end of the day or when not in use. Offices should also consolidate appliances in the work center and consider replacing old, inefficient appliances if possible, he said. Using windows for lighting when feasible during the day can also reduce electricity usage.

Additionally, people can report any deficient items, such as leaking water fixtures and improper lighting, their facility managers who then report to the 460th CES customer service. For example, a leaking toilet can waist more than 35,000 gallons, equating to approximately $400 per month, Webb added.

Across the board, the energy manager works with a team of professionals to ensure Buckley is taking the right steps to becoming as energy efficient as possible.

"We're looking at our mission operations, and that's a big part of Air Force Space Command as a whole - looking at mission operations and how we can do it more efficiently," Webb noted. "We know we can, but the question is how. That's the next big hurdle for us."
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